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Hong Kong Friday Notebook

Sam Smith’s Friday notebook from the opening round of the 2017/18 FIA Formula E Championship season…

Photo: Formula E

***The class of 2017/18 lined up for an official photo (above) this afternoon ahead of the first track action at the famous Hong Kong harborfront.

***The first ever E-Prix in Japan is still under consideration, potentially around the famous market area of Yokohama. Formula E officials have traveled to the city and a potential race in 2019 is being targeted. A Formula E spokesperson said: “We have open and ongoing dialogues with a number of cities but we are facing some challenges to get the necessary approvals in place. Short-term opportunities look slim but the objective is for the championship to eventually race in Japan.”

***The future of the Montreal E-Prix could be resolved soon as a delegation of Formula E officials are set to meet the new mayor of the city, Valérie Plante. Pressure has mounted within the city to relocate the race from its original location in downtown Montreal. A possible alternative event at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is understood to be a probable Plan B. “We look forward to meeting the new mayor in the coming weeks, so at the moment we are not in the position to disclose further information,” a Formula E spokesperson told e-racing365.

***Formula E debutant Andre Lotterer completed his eighth day in the simulator in Monaco last week ahead of arriving in Hong Kong. Techeetah Racing Director Leo Thomas told e-racing365 that Lotterer will take time to adapt to the races. “He is learning about Formula E all the time,” said Thomas. “His simulator sessions have been great but in the first few races it will all be about gaining knowledge.”

***Scot Elkins has been named as the new Race Director for the FIA Formula E Championship. The experienced American is no stranger to the championship having been attended races before working in a similar capacity.

***Elkins will work together with his predecessor Nils Wittich, who takes the new role of Track Inspector. Wittich also works on the Circuit Homologation Commission for the FIA and is using this season to draw up plans for the logistical and operational schedule in Season Five when the Jaguar I-Pace eTROPHY will race on the same bill as Formula E.

***DS Virgin Racing Team Principal Alex Tai confirmed to e-racing365 of his interest in the Jaguar I-Pace eTROPHY. “We are very interested in looking at it. It is a separate series and I think it could develop extra technologies as well,” he said.

***Former Toro Rosso Formula 1 driver Daniil Kvyat is believed to have been in discussions with at least two Formula E teams in recent weeks with a view to a possible run in the Marrakesh rookie test next month.

***Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler already knows which drivers it will run in Morocco at the Rookie test next month. “We know who we will test and we will have two drivers there,” said Head of Audi Motorport Dieter Gass. Gass would not comment on the identity of the pair but Nyck de Vries, who did much of the Season One development testing for Spark, is in the running to take one of the seats.

***Ferrari academy driver Guanyu Zhou could also make an appearance at the Marrakesh test and is in discussions with a team about becoming the third Chinese driver to try a Formula E car after Ho-Pin Tung and Ma Quin Hua.

***Fisher Stevens, the Director of the Leonardo di Caprio fronted ‘Before the Flood’ documentary, was filming in the paddock. The actor/director is shooting for a new film centered on Formula E.

***Former Andretti Formula E driver Simona de Silvestro was back in the paddock at Hong Kong working for a Swiss TV station. De Silvestro took part in 12 E-Prixs, scoring a best finish of ninth at Long Beach and Berlin in Season Two.

***Mahindra showed off a new livery today after announcing the semiconductor specialist Renesas Electronics as a major new technical partner yesterday.

***Joao Correia has been drafted in to engineer Dragon Racing’s Neel Jani this weekend. A former Team Aguri and NextEV team member, Correia replaces Andy Brown who is set to return for the Marrakesh E-Prix.

***DS Virgin Racing, in conjunction with Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin Group, the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and its partners, launched an innovative new initiative entitled the Race Against Climate Change (RACC). Click Here to watch the video.

***The new campaign aims to accelerate the energy transition and help the world achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Accord (COP21), and as unveiled during a special live event held in the Formula E pit lane on the eve of the opening rounds to the new season in Hong Kong.

***Formula E Radio will be piloted this weekend and will be available via the Formula E App and website. Marc Priestley, GT racer Duncan Tappy and social media expert Emma Walsh will spearhead the coverage.

***Both of the Hong Kong E-Prixs will start at the earlier-than-usual time of 3 p.m. local on Saturday and Sunday. This is due to the later scheduling date this year. Last year’s inaugural event took place eight weeks prior on Oct. 8.

***After a year of meticulous planning, which involved more than 1,000 staff members, 250 volunteers and nine days of set up at the Central Harborfront, the HKT Hong Kong is estimated to see 35,000 fans on site per day with 87 percent tickets sold out (across the board).

Sam Smith is e-racing365’s Formula E Editor. A 20-year veteran in motorsports media, including press officer roles in both the FIA Sportscar Championship and at Lola Group, Smith is a well-known face in the Formula E paddock, where he served as series editor for Motorsport.com from 2014-17. Contact Sam

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. FLB

    December 1, 2017 at 8:19 am

    FINALLLY a racing publication is addressing the Montréal situation. The race was a commercial disaster from Day 1. It became a major issue during the last municipal élections in the city, one that contributed in very large part to Denis Coderre’s loss to Valérie Plante.

    Coderre was reportedly the one who pushed to have the race downtown of an already congested city. There is construction everywhere. Nobody understood why the race was downtown when there was a perfectly good race track across the St.Lawrence river.

    Formula E has become a symbol of political arrogance in Québec. For Valérie Plante to hold the race downtown again would be political suicide.

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